Monday, March 19, 2012

Sweetie's Sister's engagement

 Following on from previous blogs.............

Sweetie is all excited and all of a quiver when I get home on Friday. Her mother is at the door and wants to invite us to her younger daughter's engagement party on Sunday. Sweetie's mother, Mariya, works for a neighbor of mine in Vista. In fact I got her the job!! It appears our acceptance to the celebration was a mere formality as Sweetie's family obviously know that our driver doesn't work Sundays but Mariya's Ma'am's driver does, so it has already been arranged for us to ride with Villa 33.

Sweetie then explains. The marriage that had been arranged was called off as it transpired that once the marriage was celebrated, Sweetie's sister would have been swept off to Tamil Nadu, the next state. This was all too much for Sweetie's Dad to contemplate so that potential groom was canned and within a week a new groom had been identified, terms and conditions agreed and game on!! New groom is Sweetie's husband's younger brother! Talk about keeping it in the family. So although obviously an arranged marriage, the potential groom has been known to all concerned almost since birth as the families live in the same village. My question would be why wasn't this match, under everyone's noses, considered some time ago - but then I'd have missed out on some fun blogs!!

I'm sure part of the reason we are invited is in anticipation of nice fat engagement gift, but maybe I am being sceptical and in any case who cares?.  It's a new experience and we're (well me and my camera) are looking forward to it. The prospect of having to look even remotely smart takes the gloss off any activity for the boys!

Sunday evening, after a 30 minute drive we are met on the side of the road by Sweetie's mom. It is obvious that we are sorta VIP's at this do. We are ushered through the yard area which has been canopied and carpeted for the evening and will obviously be the centre of the evening activities into the house, which is pretty small and sufficient seats are squished in to seat us. We are introduced to all of Sweetie's family which is pretty confusing as she has cousins (which she refers to as sisters) the same age as Vidya (her 5 year old daughter). Judging the age and international savvy of the relative determines whether I shake hands or do the hands together, nod the head and namaste. Most of the time I get it right!! The would be bride, I have met before, is looking suitably gorgeous in the first new sari of the evening. As part of the ceremony she is given another new sari from the grooms family - which Sweetie left work early Saturday to help the groom (her brother-in-law) and her mother-in-law choose. The blouse was made up by a tailor that evening and ready the next day!

My photos aren't so good, as the kids here are a rambunctious lot and I let them try out my camera - which like any good toy they don't tire of it very quickly so I don't get a very long turn!! In fact the kids have a blast between the frequent scoldings! Vidya, Sweetie's daughter is quite a live wire on home turf!
The groom's family then arrive and I meet Sweetie's husband who is as skinny as she is!
The groom, very handsome, arrives in a shirt and jeans, as do all his friends. The couple are then seated facing the direction the sun rises (altho' there seems to be some confusion here as partway through the proceedings the chairs are moved round 90 degrees). Each close member of the family places a bindi on the soon to be happy couple.
Mostly this passes off smoothly except when Sweetie drops the whole bowl of red powder over her brother -in-law!
The actual ceremony is pretty low key and simple, flower garlands are placed over the couple and they then exchange these three times and groom to be gives bride to be a ring. 
There are 9 plates of food/flowers which are given by one family to the other which symbolize the marriage agreements and then photo time.  If your phone rings during the ceremony you can of course answer it - even if you are the groom in waiting!!
At last food -which we have been sitting in front of and it smells delicious! The tables appear quickly and luckily we are on first shift. This is an eat and go performance. Banana leaves are placed in front of us and laden with different delicaices and no silver ware in site. But by now we are proficient eating even rice and gravy with the fingers of our right hands and I really think for tastes better this way. These something earthy and sensual eating with your fingers - cutting out the metal middle men - fork and knife. Anyway once we are done, time to move out for the next shift. Wills munching away - this really is his preferred food of choice -  seems most dischuffed, apparently he could have squeezed down another puri!

An excellent evening - I love these real Indian events, always that little touch touch of chaos and spontaneity. The hospitality to these weird foreigners is always so welcoming and so genuine.

The wedding date is fixed, hopefully we will be invited!!

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